PEN acknowledges that it is of primary importance to be permanently committed to creating conditions that can lead to ending conflicts of all kinds. There is neither freedom without peace, nor peace without freedom; social and political justice is inaccessible without peace and freedom.
For more than two decades the Government of Eritrea runs the state without a constitution, obstructing all possible natural and legal rights of the people- such as freedom of movement, worship, association, choice, speech, and academic. The whole life of the citizens is steadily politicized and militarized which diminish the natural freedom that they deserve as normal human beings. At this moment the culture of militarization and authoritarianism in Eritrea is further complicated by continuous regional instabilities and hegemonic ambitions of a landlocked and populace country, Ethiopia.
At this moment, because of chronic multi-organ government failures, Eritrea has faced serious problems such diplomatic isolation, socio-economic crisis, sanction, exodus, and shadows of war, though the regime has started to improve its relation with both Arab countries and the West, but nothing improvement in the humanitarian condition of its citizens. Equally, the opposition forces could not bring a quick change as the motion of the politics is usually affected by ethnic, religious, regional or personal/group interests or splits. They already failed to form either a unified struggle to achieve a quick political transformation or impact the silent majority to stand up for their rights. In spite of their consistent advocacy for democracy and justice, they often do not acknowledge stipulations of rules of law, and diversity of views and ideas. At this time the country has more than 35 opposition political parties, but no potential difference is partly found in their political doctrine. And the growing political fragmentation increasingly affects the platform of the media outlets in Diaspora.
More often the nature of media outlets in diaspora can chiefly be categorized into two sections – pro government and opposition media outlets though some promising independent radio stations began to appear to spread relatively fair and balanced information. Most of the media outlets get hovered by political substances, failed to embrace a relevant media standard which promote freedom of expression on the basis of authenticated information. Both government and opposition blocks run their own media outlets which are usually the source of propaganda of either side, indulging in prejudice, biases, defamation, blackmailing and violence. In fact it is hard to believe that the media successfully involves in public enlightenment which helps to turn the country from a hostile political culture into more advanced and harmonious system. In practice it seems uneasy to differentiate the mind-set, attitude, and position of the change seekers who are continuously undermining the values and norms of democracy. Majority citizens, who are being frustrated by the existing political situation of the country, prefer to be silent. Evidently, justice is not running away from the hearts of many Eritreans; we, Eritreans, are running away from the waves of justice.
PEN Eritrea was born in this muddled political situation when the country has no a total landscape for well advanced freedom of expression and a synchronized struggle to build a strong pillar for justice of the country. The major goal of the organization is to build an open, harmonious, tolerant and free society where the rights of all citizens to access, share, and disseminate information, is guaranteed. PEN International, the parent organization, believes that:
“The necessary advancement of the world towards a more highly organized political and economic order renders a free criticism of governments, administrations and institutions. And since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood and distortion of facts for political and personal ends”.
One of the major stumbling blocks that shatter the door of democracy is a chronic conflict in the Horn of Africa and the raising of authoritarian regimes which involve in gross human rights violations. For instance Ethiopia and Eritrea, which are the poorest African nations, own a massive number of soldiers and war arsenal, installing an atrocious systems – actively involved in torturing and jailing critical journalists, critics, and political dissidents. Both countries usually use political rhetoric with all possible logos, pathos and ethos to destruct the people from the main road of searching freedom and liberty. They often vow the possibilities of war eruption at any time, which put the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia into fear, confusion and mistrust, but a solid tactic to grab power and oppress their citizens. They systematically utilize media as an integrated instrument in diverting the public attention from acquiring and internalizing a certain basic values of justice. In fact some of the perilous political agenda is partly shared and agitated by social media activists and commentators which badly hurt the ethics and principles of journalism or academic research.
Nonetheless, PEN International promotes:
“Members of PEN should at all times use what influence they have in favour of good understanding and mutual respect between nations; they pledge themselves to do their utmost to dispel race, class and national hatreds, and to champion the ideal of one humanity living in peace in one world”.
PEN International encourages members to discuss issues of conflict, peace and freedom of expression, and to create a space for dialogue between writers from all parts of the world since the organization is more concerned by the political crisis, the rise of political passions, intolerance and violence as stated in its website.
To be continued …